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These are the moments when a quite new sense,
To meet some need as novel,
Springs up in the brain; it inspired resource:
“Nor advance, nor retreat but-grovel!”
And slowly, surely, never a whit
Relaxing the steady tension
Of eye-stare which binds man to beast,-
By an inch and inch declension,
Sank Donald sidewise down and down:
Till flat, breast upward, lying
At his six-foot length, no corpse more still,-
“If he cross me! The trick's worth trying.” Minutes were an eternity;
But a new sense was created In the stag's brain, too; he resolves! Slow, sure,
With eye-stare unabated, Feelingly he extends a foot
Which tastes the way ere it touches
Earth's solid, and just escapes him,
Nor hold of the same unclutches,
Till its fellow foot, light as a feather whisk,
Lands itself no less finely:
So a mother removes a fly from the face
Of her babe asleep supinely.
Just one more lift! but Donald, you see,
Was sportsman first, man after:
A fancy lightened his caution through,
He well-nigh broke into laughter: “It were nothing short of a miracle!
All sporting feats with this feat matched
Were down and dead and trampled!”
The last of the legs as tenderly
Follows the rest: or never
Or now is the time! His knife in reach,
And his right hand loose~how clever!
His face was thrown up in appeal to God;
Up the stag sprang, back he staggered,
Over he fell, and with him our friend,-
At following game no laggard.
Yet he was not dead when they picked next day
From the gully's depth the wreck of him;
His fall had been stayed by the stag beneath,
Who cushioned and saved the neck of him. But the rest of his body-why the doctors said:
“That your life is left you, thank the stag! Whatever could break was broken."
Said they, the slow cure ended, “Without bluster or brag, “ You must ask an alms from house to house:
Sell the stag's head for a bracket,
With its grand twelve tines—I'd buy it myself-
And use the skin for a jacket!”
He was wiser, made both head and hide
His win-penny: hands and knees on,
Would manage to crawl-poor crab—by the roads
In the misty stalking-season.
And if he discovered a bothy like this,
Why, harvest was sure; folks listened.
He told his tale to the lovers of sport:
Lips twitched, cheeks glowed, eyes glistened.
And when he had come to the close, he spread
His spoil for the gazer's wonder,
With: “Gentlemen, here's the skull of the stag
I was over, thank God, not under!”
HEDDÂD, the son of Ad, of Hadramant,
Idolater, lord of the land and sea,
Hath it come to ye how he mocked at heaven,
Saying he would build a better paradise
Than Allah's, and be lord and god therein ?
Wherefore he gave command that there be built
In Akhaf, on the hills, beyond the sand-
Within a hollow vale walled by wild peaks-
Round about this pleasure-house he bade
A lovely garden bloom, terraced by lanes
Bosky with blossoming trees and rose-thickets,
Where hidden streamlets murmured, and golden fruit
Loaded the boughs, and all the air was balm.
He gave command, moreover, that there rise
Hard by, with streets and markets, a fair town
Peopled by ministers of pleasure, and walled
With ramparts of the rose and pomegranate,
Wherethrough there led a double folding-gate.
Fashioned of fragrant woods, and set with stars
Of silver, opening downward to the vale,
Inscribed, “The paradise of King Sheddad.”
And when all the house was made, and all the courts
Were girded with the carven shafts and cooled
With leaping fountains, Sheddad set forth.
A shining line of spears,
League-long, wound first upon the mountain-path;
And after them the camel-litters, decked
With silk and gold and poles of silver, came,
Bearing the houris of his paradise.
At the head of all rode one who held a flag of yellow silk
Which had for its device: “Amid his gods,
Sheddâd, the son of Ad, of Hadramant,
Unasked of Allah, wends to paradise."
That night they entered at the silver gate,
Making bold cheer, and sweet the garden was,
And green the groves, and bright the pleasure-house
Lit with a thousand scented lamps, and loud
With dance and cymbal and the beat of drum.
But when the golden horseshoe of the moon
Waned in the west, there came into the sky
Three clouds; and one was white and had the shape
Of a winged angel; one was red and burned
Across the planets like a blazing sword;
And one, thick black, gathered round the head
Of a bare, hollow mountain, seamed with gaps
Brake, of a sudden, flame and cataracts
Of blood-red molten rock, with pitchy smoke
Veiling the heavens, and rain of blinding dust,
All pierced by livid lightning-spears, and driven
By fierce winds which sucked the streams and dried
Life from the body, as a furnace draws
The moisture from the potter's clay; while earth
Rocked, quaking, and the thunder's vengeful voice
Rolled horrible from crag to crag, and mocked
The death-cry of those choked idolaters;
Whereof, when the sun rose, there breathed not one;
Nor any green thing lingered in the vale ;
Nor road, nor gate appeared ; nor might a man
Say where the garden of King Sheddâd stood,
So were the ways uptorn, and that fair sin
Blotted from vision by the wrath of God.
Yet to this day there lurketh the remnant of the garden of Iram.
Behind wild peaks, and fenced with burning sands,
The perished relics of that pleasance lie,
Which Sheddad made, mocking the power of God.
And one who tended camels in the land
Followed a beast estrayed into a gorge.
Therethrough he pushed and spied a hollow, shut
In the gaunt, barren peaks, with black dust strewn
And piled with cindery crags. In the midst lay the bones
Of Sheddad's city and his pleasure-house;
All with their withered gardens, and the gate
Rusted and ruined; and the cloistered courts
Swathed in the death-drift, and the marble tanks
Choked to their brims; the carven columns fallen
Or thrust away; the bright pavilions foul
With ashes and with remnants of the dead.
In the midst sate, all agape, King Sheddâd, for a throne
Propped his dead form, and round the waist of it
A sword hung in a belt of gold and silk,
Hilted with pearls and rubies. This took the camel-driver
And glided, terrified, back from that city of the dead.
But no foot since hath found that road again,
Nor shall, till Israfel sets to his lips
The trumpet, and Az-zarr will bid him blow.
*HERE is a silence where hath been no sound,
There is a silence where no sound may be,
In the cold grave-under the deep, deep sea,
Or in wild desert where no life is found
Which hath been mute, and still must sleep profound.
No voice is hushed, no life treads silently,
But clouds and cloudy shadows wander free,
That never spoke, over the idle ground;
But in green ruins, in the desolate walls
Of antique palaces, where man hath been,
Though the dun fox, or wild hyena calls,
And owls, that fit continually between,
Shriek to the echo, and the low winds moan,-
There the true silence is, self-conscious and alone.